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Wednesday, April 29, 2020


In the past, I have been very critical of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, and those politicians like her, who continually push for reforms to the military justice system based on inaccurate and slanted political narratives – and how those reforms are destroying the military system as a “justice” system and attempting to push it as close to a “kangaroo court” system as they can get it.  So, I (rhetorically) ask you, is Senator Kirsten Gillibrand a fraud and political hack?  The question is answered by her history of hypocrisy...

Perhaps no one has been as vocal and influential in pushing for changes in the military justice system that disadvantage those military members accused of rape and sexual assault than Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.  Based on political pressure by Senator Gillibrand, and those working in concert with her, the military justice system has instituted changes that have pushed the narrative to “believe the victim,” presume the guilt of the accused military member, limit the defense ability to investigate cases, raise defenses, and confront complainants, and remove and punish commanders who are not completely on board with this.

All of these efforts stem from movements such as #metoo, #startbybelieving, #timesup.  All of these efforts score Senator Gillibrand political points.

Senator Gillibrand’s latest military target was Air Force General John Hyten.  Despite considerable evidence that the sexual assault claims against him lacked merit, and the fact that the Air Force did not pursue charges or adverse actions against him, Senator Gillibrand opposed his nomination for Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and pressed the narrative that the military’s investigation was flawed.

After her failed attempt to be the democratic nominee for President of the United States, Senator Gillibrand is now viewed as a possible running mate for Joe Biden, who is the presumptive democratic presidential nominee.  Even if Senator Gillibrand is not Joe Biden’s pick for a running mate, she could receive an important position in his administration, if he is elected.  He is, therefore, her potential political benefactor.  Inconveniently, Joe Biden is being accused of sexual assault by a former female aide of his, Ms. Tara Reade, and he has been accused of other inappropriate conduct toward women.

Based on Senator Gillibrand's very public stance regarding allegations of sexual assault in the military, and now faced with the allegations against Joe Biden, you would assume that Senator Gillibrand would condemn Joe Biden, as Senator Gillibrand has condemned military members facing the same type of allegations.  You would expect that Senator Gillibrand would insist that Joe Biden’s accusers must be believed and supported, as she does with similar military cases.  You would expect that Senator Gillibrand would criticize any efforts to raise questions about the merits of the allegations against Joe Biden, like she has argued to change the military justice system.  But, you would be wrong to have such expectations about Senator Gillibrand.  She supports Joe Biden in the face of these sexual assault allegations.  As reported by Politico:

“On Tuesday, the day Clinton endorsed Biden, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, one of the most outspoken advocates of the #MeToo movement, was asked whether Democrats were contradicting themselves with their handling of Reade’s accusations and those against now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

“No, and I stand by Vice President Biden,” Gillibrand said on a conference call. “He’s devoted his life to supporting women, and he has vehemently denied this allegation.”

Given that Senator Gillibrand blindly condemns military members accused of rape and sexual assault, how is it possible that Senator Gillibrand would support Joe Biden in the face of these latest allegations?  The answer seems obvious.  It is politically beneficial for Senator Gillibrand to now take a position supporting her potential political benefactor even though that position is diametrically opposed to what she says about military rape and sexual assault cases.  This flip-flop is not surprising if you take a look at her history…

Kirsten Gillibrand used to claim conservative political positions, when it was politically advantageous to her winning an election to become a Congresswoman in a conservative district in New York state.  She was a gun rights advocate.  She took a conservative position regarding immigration.  Then, in order to win a subsequent election to become a senator for the state of New York, she changed her positions and became decidedly liberal.  She opposed the conservative viewpoints she previously championed.  She convinced her new liberal base that she had a change of heart from her previous conservative positions, and they bought it. 

At least with regard to her changing political allegiances and her position criticizing and pushing for changes to the military justice system, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand does not appear to be a person of conviction and integrity.  Rather, it seems that she follows the political winds, and she argues for what she believes will benefit her politically in the moment.  When it was politically advantageous, she argued for conservative positions.  When it was politically advantageous, she reversed her position.  When it was politically advantageous, she argued that complaining witnesses in military rape and sexual assault cases must be believed.  But now, when her potential political benefactor faces sexual assault and sexual harassment allegations, Senator Gillibrand argues that the complainant should not be believed and that Joe Biden deserves the benefit of the doubt.

This blog post is not political.  I’m not arguing that the allegations against Joe Biden should or should not be believed.  I am not arguing who should win the upcoming presidential election.  What I AM saying, is that Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has shown, through her political history and her support of Joe Biden in the face of these sexual assault allegations, that she is a fraud and political hack.  I don’t care about the politics; I care about the military justice system that she is continually tampering with.

I hope that the next time Senator Gillibrand leads the politicians clamoring for military justice reform that will further disadvantage military members accused of sexual assault by complainants who Senator Gillibrand argues “must be believed,” that Gillibrand’s hypocrisy and political opportunism in the past is brought up.  It’s time that people start recognizing the ugly truth of the slanted politics behind the changes in the military justice system and the inaccurate and skewed narratives about the system that Senator Gillibrand argues when it scores her political points to do so, and abandons when it benefits her political career.

For more information about the military justice system, particularly cases alleging rape and/or sexual assault in violation of UCMJ Article 120, type "rape" or "sexual assault" into the search bar above the blog posts and also see:

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By:  Attorney Richard V. Stevens
Civilian criminal defense lawyer and military defense lawyer
Military Defense Law Offices of Richard V. Stevens, P.C.

Blog postscript: I (attorney Richard V. Stevens) am a former active duty military lawyer (JAG). My perspectives and advice, therefore, are based upon my experience as military defense lawyer and as a civilian criminal defense lawyer practicing exclusively in the area of military law and military justice. This blog addresses issues in military law, military justice, military discipline, military defense, court-martial practice, the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) and other military and/or legal topics. Nothing posted in this blog should be substituted for legal advice in any particular case. If you seek legal advice for a particular case, please contact The Law Offices of Richard V. Stevens for a free consultation. These military defense law offices are located in the Washington DC, Northern Virginia, Maryland, National Capital Region (NCR), but the military defense representation is worldwide – when necessary, the attorneys travel to wherever the client is stationed around the world.